BOOKS can take you to new and exciting places—completely new worlds, even. This World Book Day, April 23, 2019, let Agoda take you on a literary journey like no other. On your next holiday, trace the roots of some of your favorite authors by stopping by their hometowns—some of which have inspired their most seminal works.
Here are some must-visit spots for book-lovers roaming around Asia:
1. Kobe, Japan
Literary Hero: Haruki Murakami
Notable works: “Kafka on the Shore” and “1Q84” available from Shinchosha
Must-see attractions: Ikuta Shrine, Arima Onsen, Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge
Murakami grew up in Kobe, where a few of his stories, such as his debut novel “Hear the Wind Sing”, are set. Murakami’s works have surrealist elements, often with melancholic themes which in some ways, is reflective of the quiet beauty to be found in the many serene shrines and breathtaking nature scenery in the small seaside city. Internalize the relaxing minimalist side of Kobe when you stay at Arimakoyado Hataya Ryokan.
2. Camarines Norte, Philippines
Literary Hero: Ricky Lee
Notable works: “Para kay B” available from Philippine Writers' Studio Foundation
Must-see attractions: Calaguas Islands, Apuao Grande Island, Bagasbas Beach
More than his novel “Para kay B,” Ricky Lee’s body of work encompasses screenwriting and playwriting. He has worked with revered Filipino directors like Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal and has even published a screenplay manual called “Trip to Quiapo” which has since been a staple resource for communication colleges in the Philippines.
Visit Lee’s hometown of Camarines Norte in the central Bicol region of the Philippines and enjoy its beautiful beaches like those on Apuao Grande Island and the Calaguas group of islands. Keep comfy by making One Platinum Hotel your home base while in the area.
If you’re in the Americas, head to:
3. New York, USA
Literary Hero: Jenny Han
Notable works: “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” available from Simon & Schuster
Must-see attractions: Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge, Broadway
Though Han originally came from Virginia, her time in New York shaped her career as a young adult fiction writer. Book the cozy Jun New York Midtown III apartment, and feel right at home when you take a break from all of that sight-seeing.
4. Aracataca, Colombia
Literary Hero: Gabriel García Márquez
Notable works: “One Hundred Years of Solitude” available from HarperCollins, “Love in the Time of Cholera” available from Penguin Classics
Must-see attractions: Casa Museo, Casa del Telegrafista
The municipality of Aracataca is built along the river of the same name and boasts Nobel Prize winner for literature Gabriel García Márquez as one of its sons. The village of Macondo in García Márquez's celebrated novel, “One Hundred Years of Solitude” is fashioned after Aracataca. Take a day trip out to explore García Márquez's reconstructed childhood home-turned-museum and the Casa del Telegrafista, then settle down at the charming Agoda Home in Parque Los Novios in the nearby city of Santa Marta, where you can also visit Colombia’s famous Tayrona National Natural Park.
If you’re venturing to Europe, then consider visiting:
5. Edinburgh, Scotland
Literary Hero: J.K. Rowling
Notable works: The “Harry Potter” series available from Bloomsbury
Must-see attractions: Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Dynamic Earth, Underground Edinburgh, The Scotch Whisky Experience
Potterheads, unite! While Rowling was born in Yates, England, it was during her time in Edinburgh that she wrote most of the Harry Potter books. Check out the cafes where she was said to have spent her time writing, and check in at the stylish Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Mile Edinburgh.
6. Florence, Italy
Literary Hero: Dante Alighieri
Notable works: “The Divine Comedy” and “Vita Nuova” available from Penguin Classics
Must-see attractions: Church Santa Margherita dei Cerchi (Dante’s church), Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria and Loggia dei Lanzi
Considered to be the birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence is the capital of Italian culture, and where poet Dante met the love of his life, Beatrice. She had inspired some of his greatest works including “Vita Nuova” and “The Divine Comedy”. Tour this romantic Tuscan City, and perhaps you can find your muse too!
Domux Home Repubblica offers accommodations that balance modern living with that classic Italian charm.
And if you’re going on holiday in the Middle East, then don’t forget to add these to your itinerary:
7. Istanbul, Turkey
Literary Hero: Orhan Pamuk
Notable works: “Snow” and “The Museum of Innocence” available from Faber & Faber
Must-see attractions: Museum of Innocence, The Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia Museum
Pamuk was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2006 and holds the prestige of being the first Turkish Nobel laureate. His stories are very much grounded in Turkish culture and politics. He also established an actual Museum of Innocence based on his eponymous novel. For a truly delightful Turkish stay, book your room at Fer Hotel.
8. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Literary Hero: Mohammad Al-Murr
Notable works: “Dubai Tales” and “The Wink of the Mona Lisa” available from Motivate Publishing
Must-see attractions: Burj Khalifa, Palm Jumeirah
Born in Dubai, award-winning short story-writer Mohammad Al-Murr has published over 10 collections of his short stories. The aptly titled “Dubai Tales” is one such compilation that captures life in Dubai—one that toes the line between modern thinking and a strong sense of pride for tradition. This gorgeous 2BR apartment at The Residences by Emaar features a majestic view of the Burj Khalifa in all its over 2,700-feet glory and will make for the perfect accommodation choice while you’re in Dubai. (PR)